Argument # 18: No psychic phenomena has been demonstrated under controlled conditions.
Corollary: “Whenever proper controls are put in place, psi experiments only get chance results.”
This is another dogmatic belief by pseudoskeptics that is not based on facts, but on an a priori belief that psi is impossible and that only inadequate controls and sloppy methods can result in above chance psi results. Thus, any experiment that supports psi is automatically assumed by them to be uncontrolled, while any that fail is considered to be adequately controlled. However, this is simply not so because as mentioned in Argument # 17 above, the successful Ganzfeld and Autoganzfeld experiments were controlled. For an in-depth description of the controls used, see the following articles.
Furthermore, honest independent researchers have also verified the reality and measurable effect of psychic phenomena. One example is Darryl Sloan, a balanced freethinker with a large YouTube following. In his channel at http://www.youtube.com/darrylsloan you will see many videos of his psi wheel experiments which demonstrate authentic telekinesis not explainable by any conventional explanations. Sloan has taken great care in them to make sure that his experiments are controlled (in sealed containers and at a distance). In his videos you will see a slight (not sensational) but real and measurable effect, as well as his observations, musings and speculations. He seems to be a real truth seeker that follows the evidence and changes his views in accord with it, asking questions, and admitting when he doesn’t know something, all of which are hallmarks of a genuine objective researcher. Sloan himself has always said in his psi experiments that the best proof one can obtain is by doing the experiments on their own. That is the best way you can prove psi to yourself, without having to take on faith what someone else tells you or has done.
Pseudoskeptics will say that an experiment was uncontrolled even when they were never at the location of the experiment. This happened with the SRI (Stanford Research Institute) experiments on famous psychic Uri Geller, which was published in the scientific journal Nature in 1974. Psychic debunker James Randi (Geller’s nemesis) and other skeptics who were not at SRI when Geller was tested, made a bunch of accusations against SRI such as poor controls and deliberate skewing of the results on the part of the scientists there, Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ. But since Randi and his skeptics were never there, all they have is speculation based on their closed beliefs. Randi has no explanation for Geller’s success in some of the experiments such as guessing the exact number of the roll of a die in a cup 8 times in a row, or finding the cup with water or metal in it out of a series of cups. All he can say is that Puthoff and Targ are not magicians and do not know how to detect magic tricks. (Though suffice to say, Randi is not qualified as a scientist in any way, while Puthoff and Targ are) And of course, he charges SRI and Geller with clumsy inadequate controls or fraud, which are merely blanket statements from him cause he has no concrete evidence or explanations.
Harold Puthoff of SRI told me in email exchanges regarding these Randi charges:
“Not true at all. They just quote Randi and his pronouncements, e.g., in his book Flim Flam. In Flim Flam, he gives something like 28 debunking points, if my memory serves me correctly. I had the opportunity to confront Randi at a Parapsychology Association conference with proof in hand, and in tape-recorded interaction he admitted he was wrong on all the points. He even said he would correct them for the upcoming paperback being published by the CSICOP group. (He did not.)
In case one thinks that it was just a case of our opinions vs. his opinions, we chose for the list of incorrect points only those that could be independently verified. Examples: He said that in our Nature paper we verified Geller's metal-bending. Go to the paper, and you see that we said we were not able to obtain evidence for this. He said that a film of the Geller experiment made at SRI by famed photographer Zev Pressman was not made by him, but by us and we just put his name on it. We showed up with an affidavit by Pressman saying that indeed he did make the film. Etc., etc.”
“Geller did the same kind of remote viewing in our lab, that more than fifty others from the government and army have done as part of the 25 year remote viewing program. If the whole world has remote viewing abilities, why shouldn't Geller have some?”
“Again, these claims of inadequate controls are generally just repeats of what Randi says. The truth of the matter is that none of Randi's claimed suspected inadequate controls actually had anything to do with the experiments, which of course Randi was not there to know of. This has been independently reported by Scott Rogo somewhere in the literature, who came out specifically to check each of Randi's guesses about inadequate controls and found them inapplicable under the conditions in which the tests were conducted. In fact, all of Randi's suggestions were amateurish compared to the sophisticated steps we took, suspecting as we did everything from magician's tricks to an Israeli intelligence scam.”
As of now, you can watch the SRI documented videos of the Geller experiments on YouTube and verify for yourself that they are real. Here are the links to them. They are very convincing and remain undebunked.
During the course of his career, Uri Geller succeeded in 17 controlled experiments in different laboratories. Here are some quotes from the scientists who tested him. Notice the bold emphasis on the controls and strict conditions of the experiments.
"I tested Uri Geller myself under laboratory-controlled conditions and saw with my own eyes the bending of a key which was not touched by Geller at any time. There was a group of people present during the experiment who all witnessed the key bending in eleven seconds to an angle of thirty degrees. Afterwards we tested the key in a scientific laboratory using devices such as electron microscopes and X-rays and found that there was no chemical, manual or mechanical forces involved in the bending of the key."
Professor Helmut Hoffmann (Department of Electrical Engineering,
"Through intense concentration, Uri was able to bend a 3/8" cold rolled steel bar under controlled conditions, as he rubbed the top of it with his forefinger. I was sitting very close to him during this experiment. On another occasion, a radish seed sprouted and grew 1/2" as he held it in his hand. I watched this very closely as well. "
Jean Millay PhD.
"Uri Geller was tested in my laboratory at UCLA. During the experiments in Kirlian photography and after hundreds of trials, he produced three extraordinary photographs in which flashes of energy were clearly visible. What wonderfully welcome sights they were! I have also tested Uri's watch-fixing and metal-bending abilities. He has demonstrated these to me under controlled scientific conditions, in a most convincing manner".
Dr. Thelma Moss (Professor of psychology at UCLA and one of the first
"Uri bent a strong heat-treated alloy bar held by myself and my assistant at each end. There was absolutely no pressure exerted by Uri while the bar was bending. All the controlled experiments I conducted with Uri Geller have been described in Sciences et Avenir, No. 345, pp. 1108-1113."
Crussard (Professor of Metallurgy,
Paris, and Scientific
"Uri Geller, as a psychic genius, has been able to demonstrate the repeatability of controlled scientific psychic experiments. Thereby he has proved the reality of psychic phenomena (such as telekinesis, clairvoyance and telepathy)."
Professor P. Plum, MD (Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics, University of
"We have observed certain phenomena with the subjects [including Uri Geller] for which we have no scientific explanation. As a result of Geller's success in this experimental period, we consider that he has demonstrated his paranormal, perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner." (The results of these experiments were published in the respected British journal Nature, Vol. 251, No. 5).
Dr Harold Puthoff and
Russell Targ (Stanford Research
"Laser physicists Russell
Targ and Harold
"Under these conditions, they said, no magician has been able to duplicate through trickery the psychic feat performed by Uri Geller and others. Some won't even try."
"I have personally witnessed and experienced on two occasions the metal bending abilities of Uri Geller. These experiments were conducted under rigorous laboratory conditions. In these two experiments the thick steel rod I was holding and observing carefully bent, and continued to bend, in my own hand. One rod bent to 90 degrees during a period of approximately six minutes while I was holding it. The other steel rod bent after Uri Geller stroked it and continued bending on a glass table without anyone touching it. The steel rods were provided by myself. I consider the Geller effect to be a phenomena which should be studied seriously by science. "
"A scientist would have to be either massively ignorant or a confirmed bigot to deny the evidence that the human mind can make connection with space, time and matter in ways which have nothing to do with the ordinary senses. Further, he cannot deny that these connections are compatible with current thinking in physics, and may in the future become accepted as a part of an extended science in which the description 'paranormal' no longer applies, and can be replaced by 'normal'."
Dr. Kit Pedler, (Head of
the Electron Microscopy
As you can see, the testimony of experts who tested Geller appears convincing indeed. Besides, the failed psi experiments often cited by skeptics are almost always done by skeptics and debunkers themselves. (Gee, how unbiased is that?) The results of real scientists, fortunately, are not so one-sided as skeptics would have you believe.
For more impressive quotes by scientists regarding Uri Geller, see these links:
As you can see, Randi's long time claim that no scientist considers Uri Geller to be psychic is flat out wrong. The evidence in these quotes is impressive.
Randi also claimed in a Town Meeting speech that no magician considers Geller to be real, which was again flat out wrong. Have a look at these quotes from some of the top magicians of the world, including David Blaine and David Ben.
"Uri bent a spoon for me, the first time he did it, I thought there must be a trick. The second time I was stunned, completely, completely stunnedand amazed. It just bent in my hand. I've never seen anything like it. It takes a lot to impress me. Uri Geller is for real and anyone who doesn't recognise that is either deluding himself, or is a very sad person."
David Blain, (American Magician. Star of ABC's Television Specials.)
"I immediately pick up the spoon from the lectern and place it into my pocket so that no one can steal it before I have the opportunity to auction it off. I notice that it is now at a perfect 90-degree angle - a different physical appearance than what I recall seeing when he placed it gently down on the lectern. I secretly shake my head because it is now different and I did not see him do one thing that was suspicious, with speed, without grace or charm. It was flawless. I have no idea what he did. I now have the spoon at my home. It is perfect. I have seen many spoons bent by so called experts. Uri is in a league of his own. The curvature of the bend is beautiful - not forced. I have said to many people that the curvature reminds me of a single line drawn by Matisse. It is a work of art. You can tell that it was created by a master. Quite wonderful. I'm a fan. Now, I would like to add a few further comments. Although I am not an expert in the paranormal, I am an expert in sleight of hand. I would stack up my knowledge and ability in sleight of hand against anyone in the world. I do not believe that Geller used sleight of hand to bend the spoon. (I have seen most of the spoon bending experts created by the magic community and their work is not very elegant when compared with Geller.)"
David Ben Sleight of Hand Master
"As a magician, I believe that the tests we did (with Geller) could not be duplicated in any way by a magician's methods."
Abb Dickson (Professional magician - U.S.A. and President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians 1997-9
Abb Dickson has been named as a new director of the World Alliance of Magicians (WAM). Dickson who is a Past President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians wants WAM to help maintain the secrecy of magic and prevent exposure to the public.
"I will say only this: I have seen Uri do things that, even as a mentalist and amateur conjuror of some 30 years, I cannot explain. I know how mind-magicians obtain the effects they do... I know the illusionist's mechanics of producing so-called psychic effects that look incredibly convincing to the layman. However, I can categorically say that Uri Geller uses none of these methods. Quite simply, the man is a phenomenon."
"Many of the top Mentalists in the world have no idea how Uri Geller can make a compass needle move.
Since he does so in his bathing suit and has been checked over by ultra sensitive equipment for metal or magnetic radiation, he obviously is NOT using a hidden magnet to move the compass needle.
Since reliable sources (and knowledgeable magicians) have not only witnessed Geller make spoons bend but have witnessed them to continue moving long after Mr. Geller has left, I would challenge these so called protectors and magic geniuses to explain how he does it.
If they reply, "I don't know for sure" then they have no right to say that he is a fake."
(Even David Copperfield is unsure about whether Uri Geller is real or not, contrary to Randi's claim that all reputable magicians think that Geller is a fraud.)
"You know, I like Uri Geller. He is a good guy. I think he made many things with his abilities. I think some of the things he shows are illusion. But I cannot claim for sure, that this applies to everything."
Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, a distinguished biologist and author, has also conducted noteworthy telepathy experiments that have confirmed the existence of ESP. In his books, such as Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home and The Sense of Being Stared At, he has documented telepathic experiments involving animals knowing in advance when their owners were coming home, and humans who were able to demonstrate consistent above chance that they could sense when they were being stared at. His findings were so airtight and irrefutable in fact, that arch debunker James Randi could do nothing but use cheap ad hominem attacks on him and his research.
Dr. Sheldrake believes that a “morphic resonance field” exists between humans and animals, which account for the existence of telepathy. You can learn more about Dr. Sheldrake’s research and books on his website at: http://www.sheldrake.org
Even the Neuroscientist Dr. Michael Persinger of Ontario University, hailed by pseudoskeptics for his “God helmet” experiments that seem to debunk NDE’s being evidence of an afterlife, has announced the existence of telepathy to be an established proven fact. His controlled experiments involving two subjects in separate rooms reacting to stimuli at the same time has produced confirmatory results. Dr. Persinger says that all we know for sure is that thoughts are somehow capable of traveling outside of the mind through space and matter, but we don’t know how or why. He speculates that the Earth has some kind of magnetic field, which animals, fish and bird flocks use as a guidance system - that somehow human consciousness may be linked to.
Here is an interview with Dr. Persinger on Skeptiko:
Here is a video of a public presentation by Dr. Persinger where he announces his discovery of telepathy and the implications of it:
Other noteworthy people who have discovered the reality of psi in the past whose work you can look up and research, are Ingo Swann, CIA Remote Viewer, and JB Rhine, the founder of Parapsychology who coined the term “ESP – Extrasensory Perception” after establishing it as a real phenomenon back in the 1930’s.
For more info on Ingo Swann:
For more info on JB Rhine and his Research Center: